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Reintegrating Returning ISIS Fighters

Imran Awan

New research on young Muslims' attitudes towards returning ISIS fighters has shown that they believe returnee soldiers should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, as opposed to doing jail time.

The research saw Associate Professor in Criminology and leading Islamophobia expert Imran Awan interview 50 young Muslim men and women, aged between 14 and 25. From this, Imran discovered that interviewees were willing to "give them a chance", while another interviewee warned that if returning ISIS fighters were not rehabilitated, they would "find another extremist group and join them."

The Government's current strategy for returnee fighters is to convict and imprison those they can prove have committed a crime, while the rest are referred to the Channel deradicalisation programme. However, Imran would favour a rehabilitation programme similar to countries in Denmark, where they have enjoyed high success rates. "Rehabilitated returnee fighters could provide a powerful counter narrative to discourage others from going to fight for ISIS," he said.

The research was published in the Journal of Muslims in Europe and was recently featured on The Independent.